The Tech: Week of June 19

The entire front page of this week’s The Tech is filled with stories about Senior House.

  1. What Pilot 2021 is:
  2. Community responds to Pilot 2021:
  3. How Pilot 2021 came about:
  4. Mike Short’s piece:
  5. Student leaders respond to Pilot 2021 (UA/FSILG presidents):
  6. Why Pilot 2021 is everyone’s problem: 
  7. McCormick housemaster’s piece
  8. Senior Haus needs to change:

MIT acts to change dorm counterculture, but community isn’t going without a fight (via Cambridge Day)

The Senior House dorm known to generations of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students has art everywhere, cats roaming the halls and an eclectic assortment of students who may be low-income, first-generation, black, Asian or Latinx or LGBTQI. Its residents will tell you that – despite winning a Laya and Jerome B. Wiesner Student Art Award in 2013 for the omnipresent murals, dating back to the 1990s and including a recent work by famed artist Shantell Martin – what the 100-year-old dorm is actually most famous for is the way residents support each other. [READ MORE]

State Rep. Mike Connolly speaks Friday in support of a student sit-in against changes to the Senior House dorm at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (Photo: Mike Connolly)

Letter from Chancellor Barnhart

From: Cynthia Barnhart Subject: Sharing the decision on Senior House Date: June 12, 2017 at 3:05:32 PM EDT To: <>
Dear …,

I write on behalf of MIT’s senior leadership to inform you of our decision and our plans to support you.

The turnaround we launched last June engaged you and a number of faculty, staff, and alumni in work to promote personal wellbeing and academic success in your community. As you know, we received credible and concerning information this past semester and launched a review. A few weeks ago, we informed you of our findings that serious and unsafe behaviors and activities occurred in the house during the turnaround. Unfortunately, these behaviors and activities have served to fundamentally undermine our shared goals for the safety, health, and academic success of all Senior House residents.

The senior officers and I have met with many of you to discuss this matter, and we have received and read many emails on this topic. Before making our decision, we carefully listened to and reflected on what we heard. I hope that, through this dialogue, you gained an appreciation for the position we are in given our responsibility to provide all students with safe and healthy residential communities.

Decision & Support

We believe that significant change is needed and have made our decision based on our concern and care for present and future residents of the house. The details of our decision are:

All residents who wish to live in Senior House during the 2017-18 academic year must complete an application to be a member of the community. You will see that we are seeking individuals who are committed to contributing to a residential environment that supports residents’ academic and personal development.

Because the process will be very selective, many of you will want or need to make alternative housing arrangements for next year. Please know that we are committed to identifying supportive and welcoming options for every member of your community who wishes to live on campus. You can learn more about the relocation process and indicate your housing preferences here. (Also note that, even if you complete a Senior House application, you still need to fill out the housing preferences form so that you can secure a holding assignment while your application is reviewed).

We will work to find you room assignments in other residence halls as either individuals or as part of small groups of friends. Dean of Student Life Suzy Nelson has established a relocation team led by Dean David Randall and Associate Director Jen Hapgood-White to provide guidance and support for you throughout this process. If you have questions about another residential community, moving off-campus, dining, financial aid, work study or any other topic associated with moving, they can help starting today. To reach this team, please email

Moving Forward 

In addition to students whose applications are approved and the New House students already scheduled to move in while their building undergoes renovations, a cohort of first-year students will reside in the house next year. We are currently developing a program for first-years focused on the personal wellbeing and academic success principles and goals of the turnaround. The program will feature strong faculty and staff engagement as well as opportunities for peer mentorship.

While some of you will be disappointed with our decision, I hope you will understand it is firmly rooted in our care for you as students and our concerns about the health and wellness of your residential environment. The senior officers and I are obligated to protect our students’ wellbeing and to require accountability when the facts of a serious situation warrant it.

We have also worked to respect your privacy and to keep this matter as confidential as we can. We appreciate that you have done the same, and that you have engaged with us throughout the entirety of this process. With a decision now made, we would like to continue to keep what prompted the review and the review’s findings private.

Please remember that Dean Randall and Associate Director Hapgood-White are ready to help you right now and can be reached at Dean Nelson and I are also here for you if you want to talk about the future at any point over the summer.

Cynthia Barnhart Chancellor

Details on the “Pilot 2021” program can be found here.

Letters to Admins

Alumni have written countless letters to the MIT administration, and we are attempting to count those letters. These (somewhat) personal communications are an important part of the Senior House Community narrative and their collective message and experience are powerful. Please copy and paste your letter using the form below. You can choose to remain anonymous if you prefer, simply indicate so in the required fields.